Don’t Be Fooled by This ‘Religious Liberty’ Conference

Nov 10, 2015

By MICHAEL KEEGAN, president of People for the American Way

Antigay extremists are increasingly arguing that more rights for gay people mean fewer rights for them. They have lifted up cases challenging business owners who have refused service to LGBT people as examples of religious liberty supposedly being infringed by the gay rights movement.

A conference taking place in Des Moines this week shows exactly what these claims of “religious persecution” really are — a cover for a political agenda that’s about anything but liberty.

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal are expected to speak at the so-called National Religious Liberties Conference alongside what organizers call “targeted men and women of faith,” including David and Jason Benham, who claim to have been persecuted after their vitriolic antigay rhetoric caused them to lose a contract for a television program, and Sgt. Phillip Monk, whose claims to have suffered anti-Christian discrimination at the hands of a lesbian superior have been thoroughly debunked.

The organizers of this conference are not looking to simply freely practice their religion. Instead, they have made it abundantly clear that they wish to use the power of the government to impose their religious beliefs on others.

Three speakers at this “religious liberties” conference have defended imposing the death penalty on gay people — yes, the death penalty — including the conference’s main organizer, Kevin Swanson. Swanson has made very clear that he does not wish to grant anybody else the religious liberty that he claims he is being denied. He praised a Ugandan measure that would have made homosexuality a criminal offense punishable by life in prison or the capital punishment. He continually reminds listeners of his radio program that the Old Testament requires that “homosexuals should be put to death.”


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13 comments on “Don’t Be Fooled by This ‘Religious Liberty’ Conference

  • Since the Ted Haggard case I’ve always been sceptical about those who protest so stridently about homosexuality.

    Could it be that they consider the best line of defence is a preemptive attack?

    To paraphrase: Methinks perhaps they do protest a tad too much!

    Or, they’re simply ignorant; yes, that’s most probably it.



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  • I don’t think anyone is in the least bit fooled. already we’ve all enjoyed the hysteria surrounding starbucks proving they hate jesus by using red cups (my new favorite phrase is “christian clensing”). It’s been a long time since the term religious liberty or cries of persecution meant anything other than a profound jihad-envy brewing in americas fastest declining demographic.

    This is how language evolves. a hate group takes a benign term like “religious liberty” and turns it into something that one can only ever associate with some news report of other of a wingnut getting angry about having their wingnuttery pointed out to them.



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  • @OP – Three speakers at this “religious liberties” conference have defended imposing the death penalty on gay people — yes, the death penalty — including the conference’s main organizer, Kevin Swanson. Swanson has made very clear that he does not wish to grant anybody else the religious liberty that he claims he is being denied.

    There is an interesting contrast in the UK.

    I have just been visiting an old college pal who lives with his gay partner and runs his bed + breakfast hotel.

    He used to advertise in gay magazines, as as gay friendly establishment, but no longer bothers, now that discrimination against homosexuals has diminished, so gay couples can simple book hotel rooms more or less anywhere.



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  • In any case, this is just the usual theist interpretation of “religious liberty”!

    ie. The religious taking liberties with other people’s rights, state laws, scientific facts etc. and then claiming that they are being victimised by anyone who resists their attempts at domination!



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  • Antigay extremists are increasingly arguing that more rights for gay people mean fewer rights for them.

    No rights have been taken away from the religious extremists and their total sum of rights remains the same as before. The rights granted to LGBT community are not “Extra” rights, they are the rights that have always been afforded the general population, but have been denied to LGBT. Bringing them from below the baseline, to the same position as everyone else.



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  • I think Starbucks have done well for themselves, if by accident. many of us would never patronise their shops when there are other, more ethical, tax paying, independent coffee bars but now they’ve become the cafe “least likely to find yourself in the same room as xtian fundy” which is always a crowd-puller this time of year



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  • Nice bright decor in the electric chair death chamber, I notice.

    I suppose that if Jesus had been murdered in that manner people would now have chains around their neck dangling little electric chairs onto their chest.



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